The vast and beautiful expanse of the Atchafalaya Basin, in Louisiana on Interstate 10, is one such place.
The summer of 1999 Joe had been doing Drive-Away for a little over a year. I had been riding with him for just a few months. Not driving yet, just riding and helping with his work.
I remember it being hot in the cab of the truck. We had the windows down in an attempt to cool off, which wasn’t very successful in the humid summer heat.
We were getting on an 18 mile bridge that spans the Atchafalaya Basin.
Joe told me we would be going over a swamp. I had pictures in my head of seeing the boats with giant fans gliding over the waters and vegetation. Instead I saw forests of trees with occasional glimpses of water.
Every once in a while Joe would shuffle his feet and make a groaning noise. I asked if he were uncomfortable or bothered by the water beneath us. His feet were burning and stinging. He was experiencing a bad case of athlete’s foot.
You see, as long as I had known Joe he wore cowboy boots or heavy leather boots. All year long. I, on the other hand tried to stay as close to barefoot as I could.
I broached the subject once again with Joe. Can we stop and get you some sandals at a Walmart somewhere? As expected, I got the same response as I had all the other times. “I don’t wear Jesus boots!” The derision in his voice was dripping with disgust at even the thought of his feet being in open footwear.
Shrugging it off, I continued to enjoy the scenery. Long tree lined rivers
Nearing the end of the bridge over the swamp basin I saw vehicles parked at the waters edge. The occupants were fishing or boating nearby.
I wasn’t going to celebrate a victory just then, nor was I going to ruin the possible win by overstating the benefits of “Jesus” boots.
“I keep my feet dry so the bacteria can’t grow. I’ve had athlete’s foot before and it is uncomfortable” was all I said.
After a little while Joe requested me to keep an eye out for a Walmart. This was long before the iPhone and the easy Google map feature to find a Walmart nearby. We found one on that day. Reluctantly, Joe relented. More like he was being lead to to his doom than just a shoe shopping trip.
To this day, when the weather is warming – even in winter – Joe can be seen in his “Jesus” boots.